The country went into a frenzy yesterday when the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmaed Tinubu, cautioned the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government against increasing the Value Added Tax (VAT).
Tinubu, who made this known was speaking at the colloquium held in commemoration of his 67th birthday yesterday in Abuja.
The former governor stated that increasing VAT was tantamount to reducing the purchasing power of the people.
“I must say this to Prof Osinbajo and his team, don’t increase VAT but increase tax net to accommodate those who are not yet paying. Don’t reduce the people’s purchasing power,” Tinubu said.
However, he added a rejoined, “We must criticise ourselves,” he said.
In a swift reaction to Tinubu’s admonition, the Senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, queried the presidency for being silent about Tinubu’s statement.
Sani made this known in a tweet he shared on his verified twitter handle, “Jagaban has spoken his truth and they are quiet, but if it’s another person they would have counter or ask why are you embarrassing the President publicly ‘when you have private channels of advising him’.”
It would be recalled that the Federal Government on Wednesday introduced the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative to generate more revenues to finance national development.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed at the official inauguration of the initiative in Abuja said that the aim was to harmonise efforts of all the revenue generating agencies in increasing government’s coffers.
Representatives of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Accountant-General of the Federation and Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority were present at the launch.
Also present, were representatives of the Debt Management Office, Central Bank of Nigeria and the National Insurance Commission.
The major revenue generating agencies made presentations on the initiatives they would introduce in their respective agencies to increase revenue.
However, Ahmed was quoted saying: “The initiative will be implemented in the areas of achieving sustainable revenue generation to optimally collect revenues to maintain fiscal buoyancy and resilience.We will also be looking at new revenue streams and enhanced enforcement with regards to revenue collection on our existing revenue streams.Through the initiative, we hope to achieve cohesion between revenue generating entities and equipping them with cutting-edge tools and expertise needed to support high performance.’’
Ahmed said that as a way of increasing non-oil revenue, the government was looking at the possibility of increasing Value Added Tax.
“We are studying a possibility of a VAT increase but you also know that the increase of VAT requires an amendment of a law. It is most likely the VAT increase will be selective. It will be on special items so it won’t be across the board. I am sure you are already aware that there are a number of items that are exempted from VAT such as food and drugs. There would be a VAT increase during the course of 2019, we will announce later the items and what the rate will be. We will have to take a request to the National Assembly for amendment of the VAT law before it takes effect,’’ she added.
Image Credit: Koko TV, Channels TV
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